Samsung is celebrating the first anniversary of its Milk Internet radio service by a web browser client. You'll still need a Samsung device to use the Milk app on a smartphone, tablet, or television.
The web-browser version eschews the app's circular touchscreen control mechanism in favor of a more mouse-friendly linear slider. There are also keyboard shortcuts for most of the player's functions, including volume control, station tuning, favoring a song, and banning one. As with the app version, you can display nine radio stations at once, choosing from 17 broad genres ranging from Pop and Hip-Hop to Rock, Classical, and World music.
You can narrow the focus of each station to bring it closer to your liking. The broader the category, the more splinters you can choose from. I don't consider myself a country music fan, but I was able to find some great music by tuning into the Americana channel of that genre. I had 13 other variations to choose from, including Bluegrass, Ladies of Country, and Red Dirt Road. Having said that, Spotify's web client isn't as pretty or as easy to use as Samsung's, but its Folk & Americana channel offered up nearly 60 variations on that theme.
You can further fine tune a station by using sliders to adjust the mix of popular, new, and favorite tracks the station plays. Slacker--the service that "powers" Milk--has the same feature, with the added options of hearing from the station's hosts as well as news and sports updates. Milk will also display the names of other artists it considers to be similar to the one you're listening to at the time, but the names are just displayed--they're not linked and you can't even select them to cut and copy into a browser.
I'm not an LP aficionado--I'm too addicted to the convenience of digital music--but I do miss those big ol' album covers. So I like the fact that Milk uses almost the entire display to show album art, with its user-interface elements overlaid on top but around the perimeter so they don't obscure the image.
When you call up other elements such as the artist's biography, you see other art from the album. Unlike most other streaming services, Milk doesn't have much in the way of connections to your social networks. You can't post the song you're listening to on your Facebook page or Twitter feed, for instance.
The quality of the music, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired as it streams at just 128Kbps. Google Play Music, Rdio, Spotify, and some other services stream at 320Kbps.
Milk is free to use and is free of advertisements, but you're limited to skipping six songs. Samsung also offers a paid version of Milk ($4 per month) that lets you skip an unlimited number of songs, but it's not clear if that service will be made available to users who listen only via the web player and don't purchase a Samsung device. I've submitted a query to my Samsung PR contact and will update this story when I hear back.